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Akumal vs Playa del Carmen – Which is Better in Riviera Maya?

Last updated on January 17th, 2023 at 04:57 pm

Akumal vs Playa del Carmen – Both top places to visit in the Riviera Maya, both Akumal and Playa del Carmen are on the Yucatan Peninsula so they both share beautiful blue waters. And while Playa del Carmen is beaches with a hotel strip, Akumal has better snorkeling and underwater scenery. Click here to book online Cancun activities and day tours

Comparing Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

In this battle, we pick Akumal as the winner. Swimming with turtles in Mexico is what Akumal is known for. White sand, blue waters and incredible marine life is what you get from Akumal, while Playa del Carmen has the lux hotels strip by the beach. Comparing the two, we choose Akumal. Read here Tulum vs Playa del Carmen and Akumal vs Tulum

SIM CARD AT CANCUN AIRPORT

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Why Snorkeling is Huge in Akumal

Akumal literally means in Mayan a “place of turtles“. In Yucatan Peninsula, a big number of turtles arrive every year to lay their eggs on the Akumal beach during the summer. Summer in Akumal is between May and October. These turtles are also known as Akumal sea turtles, laying approximately 70,000 eggs every year. Every year, you can see loggerheads and green sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches of Half Moon Bay and surrounding areas.

Akumal is also popular for its exotic coral reef surrounding Akumal bay which makes it one of the top places in the Riviera Maya for diving and snorkeling.

The reef system is home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk, and more than 500 species of fish. It also includes sea turtles, rays, manatees, and sharks contributing to the complex ecosystem.

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How to Get to Akumal Bay – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

Akumal Bay or Akumal beach is easily reachable from Playa del Carmen with a 20-30 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen. If you’re coming from Tulum, Akumal is 15-20 minutes drive from north of Tulum, on highway 307.

Things to Do in Akumal – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

1. Akumal Bay / Akumal Beach

Akumal Beach in Mexico, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?

Swimming in Akumal Bay or Akumal beach is completely free – great news! You’ll have to pay for everything else, and since snorkeling is huge in Akumal, either bring your own snorkeling gear or rent them near the beaches.

2. Aktun Chen – Playa del Carmen vs Akumal

Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?
Aktun Chen Natural Park in Akumal, Mexico

One of the most unique things to see in Akumal is the Aktun-Chen Natural Park, an incredible cave system and a beautiful one at that. You’ll see stalactites, columns, pillars, and translucent curtains that are all totally dry, and just breathtaking especially in real life. There are activities near Aktun-Chen like swimming in the cenote and ziplining.

3. Yal-ku Lagoon

Yal-ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?

Another beautiful thing to do in Akumal is the Yal-ku Lagoon. A shallow cenote offering clear waters – perfect for snorkelers. In Yal ku Lagoon you can snorkel with fish & sea turtles.

3. Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and Rescued Animals

Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Akumal Monkey Sanctuary
Akumal Monkey Sanctuary – Playa del Carmen vs Akumal

A perfect place to see to complete your nature and animal experience in Akumal is the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and Rescued Animals in Akumal. This is a sanctuary to a wide variety of animals. The top goal of the rescue center is to make sure they give the best care to all the rescued monkeys and other animals. This activity is perfect for families, couples and everyone a great break from the water.

4. Cenote Santa Cruz

Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?
Cenote Santa Cruz

Cenote Santa Cruz is a cenote for swimming in Akumal, not to be confused with the Cenote Santa Cruz that they have in Tulum.

Things to do in Playa Del Carmen – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

1. Parque Los Fundadores / Founders Park / Parque Los Fundadores

Parque Los Fundadores or the Founders Park, Playa del Carmen in Quintanaroo, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?
Parque Fundadores or the Founders Park, Playa del Carmen

Parque Fundadores or the Founders Park is found in Playa del Carmen’s City Center and is free for access to the public. You’ll easily see this arriving in Playa del Carmen, as it’s one of the first sights to see, just outside ADO Bus Station.

In Parque Lost Fundadores, you’ll see the Portal Maya Statue, a beautiful statue of two figures high up in the air, reaching to touch each other.

2. Xcaret Park – Akumal vs Playa del Camen

Xcaret Park, Playa del Carmen, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?

Xcaret Park is best when you want to visit a private-themed park and resort. Inside Xcaret Park, you’ll see Jaguar Island, Coral Reef Aquarium, and Monkey Island. It’s an eco-archeological park in Playa del Carmen.

Xenses Park is also part of Xcaret.

3. 3D Museum of Wonders

Something fun to do with kids or kids at heart, the 3D Museum of Wonders has a lot of illusional artwork created by Michaelangelo, DaVinci, and other famous artists.

4. Cenote Chaak Tun / Cavernas Chaaktun

The Cavernas Chaaktun are small caverns that you will love swimming in and discovering in Playa del Carmen. Not to miss if you love nature and would love to do some exploring while in Playa del Carme.

5. 5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue

5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?
5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

The 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen also known as Quinta Avenida is one of the popular streets in Playa del Carmen that is frequented by tourists. It’s a street where everything is happening, and where the local sellers can speak English, so if you’re trying to find a comfortable way to start your trip in Playa del Carmen, and want to talk to English speakers, you might like this place.

6. Chikin Ha

Chikin Ha - Cenote in Playa del Carmen - Akumal vs Playa del Carmen
Chikin Ha, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen

Chikin Ha is another Cenote in Playa del Carmen that is worth your time if you’re looking to experience more nature. It’s a 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, and a cenote good for swimming.

7. Playacar / Sandos Playacar

Playacar , Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?
Playacar – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Playacar beach is a bit of an exclusive resort experience if that’s what you’re after.

Exclusive resorts, higher-priced accommodations, and food are here. All-inclusive is that you can get in Sandos.

8. Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?
Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote is one of the top beautiful cenotes to visit in Playa del Carmen less than 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen. This cenote has an entrance fee of $200 pesos (Mexican) for adults and $150 for children. Mexicans get some discounts, with $170 for Mexican adults and $120 pesos for children.

9. Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto, Playa del Carmen, Akumal vs Playa del Carmen - Which is Better in Riviera Maya?

Playa del Carmen has an underground river, the Rio Secreto. This reminds us of the beautiful Palawan Underground River in the Philippines, a UNESCO heritage site itself.

Because it is one of Playa del Carmen’s main things to do, you can’t go to Rio Secreto without an official tour of the reserve.

Tickets cost $79 (Mexican pesos) for adults and $39.50 for kids from ages 4 to 12 years old.

Rio Secreto is definitely not one to miss as it is one of Riviera Maya’s most fascinating things to witness.

Best Time to Visit Mexico

There is 2 seasons dry and wet season. The rainy season starts in May. The best time to visit Mexico is from the months of November to April because it is the months of the dry season. However, lots of tourists prefer to travel from January to March since it’s not peak season but it can be rainy for a few days.

Click here to know more about the weather in Mexico

Cash in Mexico

Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that the country’s dollars are very common and well-accepted. Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico.

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Final Thoughts on Comparing Akumal vs Playa del Carmen – Which One to Choose?

You will never go wrong for any vacation in Yucatan Area. Choosing between Akumal and Playa del Carmen, while Playa del Carmen is perfect for an all-inclusive family getaway, Akumal adds to this with its underwater snorkeling with turtles and beautiful coral reef. You can’t go wrong with either of these beautiful destinations.

Let us know what you ended up choosing and have a wonderful Caribbean trip!

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.